History by the River is a monthly panel event with a social buzz for lovers of books, history and good beer. It’s a chance to get together with fellow readers and authors to hear about the best new historical writing, then discuss it all over a drink afterwards.
With the hottest historical debut talent of the year, Stuart Turton, Imogen Hermes Gower and Beth Underdown (Winner of the HWA Debut Crown 2017). Chaired by Anna Mazzola.
20th March 2018
Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who has previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is his debut novel. He is the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition. He lives in West London with his wife.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
A brilliantly original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent: Gosford Park meets Inception, by way of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.
‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’
It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…
Imogen studied Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History at UEA’s Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts before going on to work in museums. She began to write small pieces of fiction inspired by the artefacts she worked with and around, and in 2013 won the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholarship to study for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.
As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.
Where will their ambitions lead? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?
In this spell-binding story of curiosity and obsession, Imogen Hermes Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart and wit.
Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.
The Witchfinder’s Sister is her debut novel, and is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins.
She first came across him while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.
The Witchfinder’s Sister
When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.
To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?
Winner of the HWA Debut Crown Award 2017, and a Spring 2018 Richard and Judy Book Club pick, this beautiful and haunting historical thriller is perfect for fans of Sarah Waters, The Miniaturist and Burial Rites.
Your Chair – Anna Mazzola
Anna Mazzola is a writer of historical crime fiction and, probably due to some fault of her parents, is drawn to peculiar and dark historical subjects. Her debut novel, The Unseeing, published in July 2016, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837.
Her second novel, The Story Keeper, is about a collector of folklore and missing girls on 19th century Skye and will be published in July 2018. She also writes short stories.
Anna studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before accidentally becoming a human rights and criminal justice solicitor. She lives in Camberwell, South London, with two small children, two cats and one husband.